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Lira v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 9, 2018

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL, INC., et al., Defendants.


          KANDIS A. WESTMORE United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Juan Pablo Aldana Lira filed this case, alleging that Defendants Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. and Chipotle Services, LLC terminated his employment because of Plaintiff's disability. (First Amended Compl. ("FAC") ¶ 25, Dkt. No. 35.) On April 30, 2018, the parties filed a joint letter concerning Defendants' subpoena of two of Plaintiff's medical providers for all documents from January 1, 2008 to the present relating to Plaintiff's "medical records, psychiatric records, psychological records, billings, prescription and insurance records." (Joint Discovery Letter at 1, Dkt. No. 53.)

         Having considered the papers filed by the parties, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court will permit discovery of medical records pertaining to Plaintiff's HIV diagnosis and related symptoms only.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff began working for Defendants in January 2008. (FAC ¶ 16.) In February 2012, Plaintiff was diagnosed with HIV. (FAC ¶ 18.) As a result, Plaintiff suffered complications including fatigue, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, joint pain, diarrhea, and insomnia. (FAC ¶ 19.)

         In February 2012, Plaintiff's doctor placed him on a medical leave of absence. (FAC ¶ 20.) On February 18, 2012, Plaintiff gave his store manager, Don Carvalho, a handwritten doctor's note explaining his need for a medical leave of absence due to his disability. (FAC ¶ 22.) Mr. Carvalho gave the note to the General Manager/Restaurateur, Evange DeKaristo. Mr. DeKaristo then met with Plaintiff and told him that the doctor's note was insufficient because it was handwritten, rather than typed. Mr. DeKaristo stated that Plaintiff had to provide a more professional doctor's note. When Plaintiff requested the return of the handwritten doctor's note, Mr. DeKaristo stated that he had already ripped it up and thrown it away. (FAC ¶ 22.)

         On February 21, 2012, Plaintiff provided a typed doctor's note. (FAC ¶ 23.) Mr. DeKaristo questioned Plaintiff about his disability, demanding to know his diagnosis and the nature of his disability. Plaintiff, however, refused to disclose his HIV status. (FAC ¶ 23.)

         Plaintiff's doctor originally placed Plaintiff on disability leave until March 30, 2012, before extending it to July 18, 2012. (FAC ¶ 24.) On July 11, 2012, Plaintiff's doctor again extended the medical leave of absence to January 18, 2013 due to the persistence of Plaintiff's symptoms. Plaintiff provided written confirmation of the extension to Defendants. (FAC ¶ 24.)

         On January 14, 2013, Plaintiff spoke to Mr. DeKaristo about returning to work at the end of his medical leave of absence on January 18, 2013. (FAC ¶ 25.) Mr. DeKaristo told Plaintiff he had already been terminated. (FAC ¶ 25.)


         Under Rule 26, in a civil action, a party may obtain discovery “regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Additionally, the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery if it determines that: “(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or (iii) the proposed discovery is outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C). Rule 45 also specifically provides that “the court for the district where compliance is required must quash or modify a subpoena that: (i) fails to allow a reasonable time to comply; (ii) requires a person to comply beyond the geographical limits specified in Rule 45(c); (iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies; or (iv) subjects a person to undue burden.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(d)(3)(A).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45 governs discovery of non-parties by subpoena. Rule 45 provides, among other things, that a party may command a non-party to testify at a deposition. Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(a)(1)(A)(iii). The scope of discovery through a Rule 45 subpoena is the same as the scope of discovery permitted under Rule 26(b). Beaver Cty. Employers Ret. Fund v. Tile Shop Holdings, Inc., No. 3:16-mc-80062-JSC, 2016 WL 3162218, at *2 (N.D. Cal. June 7, 2016) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 45 Advisory Comm.'s Note (1970); Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)).


         Defendants seek to enforce subpoenas to two of Plaintiff's medical providers, which seek all documents from January 1, 2008 to the present "[relating to Plaintiff's] medical records, psychiatric records, psychological records, billings, ...

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